We all know that store-bought snacks are far from healthy, but still watching a movie or having friends over can’t go without them. But, if you replace commercial snacks with homemade ones, you can actually boost your health on many levels!
One such food to consider is definitely hummus. Hummus got its name from the Arabic word for chickpeas, the main ingredient it comprises. This healthy, creamy spread is extremely popular in North African and Middle East cuisines.
The earliest records of hummus date back to the 13th century, when the Egyptians started using this healthy meal as part of their diet. Today, hummus is gaining popularity all over the world, first because it’s delicious, and second because it has been linked to lower risk of cancer and heart diseases.
Hummus nutritional value
Hummus is made of several health-boosting ingredients – chickpeas, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt and herbs. If you are preparing hummus at home, you can also add parsley.
Hummus owes its health benefits to the wide array of nutrients it contains. These include healthy fats, fiber, iron, zinc, manganese, potassium, calcium, copper, selenium, calcium, phosphorus, betaine, choline, vitamin A, B, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, E and K, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The nutrition chart for a cup of hummus looks like this:
10 reasons to include hummus in your daily diet
The high nutritional value of humus makes this spread the perfect snack choice. Read on and find out why you should put hummus on your menu every day.
- Keeps weight gain under control
What makes hummus great for weight loss is the high fiber content along with other nutrients it contains. Regular consumption can keep blood sugar levels under control, curb appetite and unhealthy cravings, and reduce the risk of obesity-related diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and hyperglycemia.
- Reduces the risk of cancer
Owing to their ability to protect the gastrointestinal tract from toxins and harmful bacteria, the chickpeas in hummus can reduce the risk of some cancers including colorectal cancer. Plus, chickpeas are a good source of protease inhibitors, phytic acid and saponins, all of which are potent anti-cancer agents.
- A rich source of protein
A single cup of hummus packs 12g of protein, which equals 24% of your recommended daily protein intake.
- Lowers cholesterol
Chickpeas have been found to reduce blood cholesterol levels. A 2008 study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics revealed that a diet rich in chickpea lowered cholesterol in 45 people aged 30-70. Plus, the olive oil in hummus is highly beneficial for reducing inflammation and controlling the good (HDL) cholesterol.
- Improves digestive health
As mentioned earlier, chickpeas are abundant in fiber, which improves digestive function by supporting regular bowel movements and preventing constipation. Drained chickpeas contain insoluble fiber, which is great for those affected with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and other digestive problems. The thing with insoluble fiber is that it stays intact until it reaches the colon. Studies confirm that bacteria in the colon metabolize chickpea fiber producing short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which fuel the intestinal wall lining.
- Reduces inflammation
According to a study published in the Acta Poloniae Pharmaceutica Journal, chickpeas have anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce inflammatory markers.
A separate study published in 2013 in the British Journal of Nutrition found that olive oil also reduces inflammation and increases good (HDL) cholesterol levels.
Hummus contains both of these powerful anti-inflammatory ingredients, plus garlic, which makes it ideal against chronic inflammation.
- Improves bone health
The sesame seeds in tahini, one of the main ingredients in hummus, are rich in selenium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium and copper, all of which are extremely beneficial for strong and healthy bones. Zinc is particularly effective in reducing the risk of osteoporosis and other bone-related conditions.
In addition, chickpeas are also a good source of vitamin K, zinc, magnesium, manganese and calcium.
- Improves cardiovascular health
A 2004 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that olive oil can regulate blood pressure levels, improve glucose metabolism and reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol. Moreover, the strong antioxidant properties of chickpeas have been found to lower the risk of heart diseases.
- Increases energy levels
Regular consumption of hummus can increase your energy levels because chickpeas are complex carbohydrates that the body uses as an energy source. The thing is these carbs take longer to break down, so they release energy over time without increasing your blood sugar levels. High blood sugar or hyperglycemia is marked by weakness, fatigue and tiredness.
- Part of the common Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet has been found beneficial against Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, obesity, muscle weakness, heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. Hummus is an important part of this diet.
Basic healthy hummus recipe
Although you can easily obtain hummus at the nearest store, homemade hummus is a healthier alternative. It’s easy to make and it’s not time-consuming. You basically need several ingredients and a blender. This is what you do:
- 2 cans of chickpea beans or 2 cans of cooked sprouted chickpeas
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1 extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup tahini
- 1 peeled garlic clove
- 1 cumin
- Grey Celtic sea salt
Start by draining the chickpeas or cooking them for an hour if they’re dry. If you are using dry chickpeas, place them in a pot of water, which you bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes then remove from heat. Leave the chickpeas soak in the water for an hour. Finally, drain the chickpeas and wash them well.
The next step is to make the hummus. For this, mix all the ingredients together until well-blended. Use olive oil or water to get the consistency you prefer.
Hummus recipe alternatives
Chickpeas intolerance can occur in some people. If you belong to this group, just replace the chickpeas in the recipe with 2 cups of peeled and chopped zucchini and half an avocado. Add an extra tablespoon of olive oil to improve the flavor. You can keep zucchini hummus refrigerated for no more than 4 days.
Other ingredients can be used instead of chickpeas, for instance, sweet potatoes, black beans, red roasted peppers, curry, jalapeno or cilantro. If your choice is eggplant, then you’ll get a nice baba ghanoush. Hummus combines best with fresh vegetables.